Your startup company’s online reputation (e-reputation) can significantly impact your bottom line. When people search for your company, if all they see are negative reviews, it can make it extremely difficult to capture new business.
Through the process of online reputation management, you can help create a positive image for your company online. In many cases, you can also prevent negative news stories or reviews from occurring in the first place. Here are some tips that you can use to successfully manage your online reputation:
Wise Internet Reputation Management Means Paying Attention To The Search Results
Most people use search engines to search for companies or individuals. It is important to make sure that the results that come up when people search for your business name or your own personal name are generally positive in nature. The best way to do this is by making sure that you control as many of the pages that show up at the top of the search results as possible for searches that include your name or the name of your company.
Along with registering a domain name and setting up your own site, you should also set up profiles on all of the major social networks. These high-authority listings should show up on the first page of results when people search for your name. The point is to take control of as many authoritative listings as possible for your business. This includes not only your own website but also your social media profiles. This will allow you to fill up most of the spots on the first page of listings for searches related to your brand or name, helping to push any negative content further down in the search results.
Monitor The Search Results For Changes to your Online Reputation
Ideally, you should reevaluate the search results on a monthly basis. The only exception is if your company is frequently featured in the news. In that case, you should check the results a lot more often. Use Google Alerts to get notified any time stories or articles are published that feature the name of your brand or keywords that are relevant to your business.
Consider checking multiple pages of the search results to see what information is out there. Even though most users will stop looking after they check the first page, it is still important for you to know what type of negative information may be lurking on the second or third page of the results. Keep in mind, any negative items that appear on these pages could wind up working their way onto the first page of the results over time. Keep track of what is happening with the search results over time by using a spreadsheet to monitor changes. Create columns in the spreadsheet for the title of the page, the website address, and who controls the page, whether that is you or someone else. You should add an additional column where you can track whether the page is positive, negative, or neutral.
Try To Get Positive Feedback From Your Customers
Getting customers to share positive reviews or testimonials may seem challenging. As it turns out, however, there are quite a few different ways that you can go about it. One option is simply to ask them. Check in with your customers to make sure that they were happy with their experience. While you are at it, encourage them to share a positive review if everything met their expectations.
You can add requests for feedback to your sales receipts. Alternatively, you can publish a note on your web page or put up a sign in your retail shop asking for customer feedback. If customers have a negative experience, they are far more likely to take it upon themselves to write about it online than they are if they have a positive experience. Your goal should be to encourage everyone who is happy with the service they received to talk about your business on the Internet. Typically, this technique is most effective if you don’t already have a lot of negative reviews online.
Focus On Customer Engagement
Customers like to know that they matter. Finding ways to engage them is a great way to show them that you take their concerns seriously. Some of today’s leading companies are already doing this by setting up dedicated social media accounts where customers can share any problems or complaints. Having these types of tools available lets your customers know that you are doing your best to make sure they are satisfied. Most customers are willing to forgive bad experiences if they feel like the company is truly sorry and is doing their best to make things right.
Regularly Update Your Content to Manage your Online Reputation
Search engines feature fresh, relevant content at the top of the search results. If you want your online properties to maintain high positions in the search engines, you need to regularly update them. Adding new content on a regular basis will keep your properties from dropping lower in the search results.
If you don’t have time to update your content, you can always outsource it to someone else. That way, you can focus on other parts of your business. Ultimately, however, it is extremely important to publish content that is not only relevant to your business but also fresh and exciting. Regularly adding this type of content to your online properties will help ensure that they stay at the top of the search listings.
Avoid Becoming Overly Defensive About Negative Items
When you see something negative published about your business, your first reaction is most likely to try to make it go away as fast as possible. A lot of times, that means responding before you have all of the facts or before you have a chance to evaluate the situation. In most cases, however, the best option is to take a breath, pause for a minute, and wait until the dust settles before deciding how you want to respond.
The worst thing that you can do is become overly defensive. Posting negative content, reacting aggressively, or denying any stories without having all of the information can reflect negatively on your business. Before responding, make sure that you have all of the facts. When you do respond, try to stay positive and calm, presenting your side of the story in a professional manner.
Reputation Management Firms Always Suggest you Begin with Blogging
Blogging is a great way to get the word out about your business and to share your thoughts and ideas. It also is an excellent reputation management tool since it allows you to control the narrative around your business. Starting a blog for your business also gives you one more online property that you control, helping you further dominate the search results.
With your blog, you can also come up with unique content to share with your followers. As an example, you can publish interviews with experts in your field. To get the most traction possible out of these interviews, you can also turn them into podcasts or videos, sharing them on other sites, as well. This type of content can have a viral effect as a gets shared with others, helping to give your blog a boost.
Blogs are often favored by search engines since their content is updated on a regular basis. They also provide you with a chance to speak directly to your customers, sharing useful information and helping them get to know your business. You may even be able to communicate with customers directly through the comment section on your blog.
When you create a text-based link to another page, the text that is highlighted or clickable is known as anchor text. Search engines use anchor text to determine what a webpage is about and how relevant it is to a particular topic. If a lot of different high-authority websites link to an article on your site using similar anchor text, it tells the search engines that the page that they are linking to contains valuable information about that topic.
The hard part is figuring out how to get links on authoritative websites since you don’t have any control over them.
One option is simply to ask the website owners if they would be willing to link to your business. Although you may get shot down by some businesses, others may be more than happy to oblige. If you go this route, you need to make sure to use slightly different anchor text for each link to your site. If too many links have the same anchor text, it can wind up getting your website penalized by the search engines. Try to keep it natural by making slight changes to the anchor text with each link so that the search engines don’t think that you are engaging in spammy link building tactics.
If you need help with your online reputation management, we offer a number of services to help you capture the online real estate around your brand and showcase your business in a positive light.